W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
WHAT ABOUT RACIAL INTER-MARRIAGE
AND THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST ?
We come now to a Swift Witness item, where a simple enquiry led to this response to be presented below. The reason for including this anonymously in this work, is simple. RACIAL matters rest on the Biblical proposition that ALL men were created by ONE God in ONE image (Acts 17:23-27, Colossians 3:10). Hence WHEN there is a racial overcoming in terms of the past, the culture and the inclinations which could be derived in part from geographical, colour, historical grounds, for example, it is a testimony to the FACT of one image and to the POWER of God to overcome the incidentals which can add spice and herbs to the pot.
noted within, liberty and even glory to God as an aim, is not the same as
authority to act in EVERY instance. In this as in ALL things which are
PERMITTED by the word of God, one must be clear about the divine leading. The
word gives the liberty, the Lord gives the wisdom within it (Psalm 32, James
1). It is necessary to use the liberty of the Lord wisely; and sometimes this
may mean marriage outside racial barriers, financial ones, social ones and the
whole ambit of the usual. More generally, the love and friendship and
understanding and mutual enhancement from a bunch of flowers has a special
place in the joy of heart in the beauty of truth. So in racial matters, the
love and friendship IN CHRIST is a matter for enhancement of delight,
potentially. As with all bouquets, however, the compilation is no slapdash
THE QUESTION WHICH CAME
This is very slightly edited without changing the sense.
"I have a question that
I am struggling with. I have heard a good argument biblically on both sides of
the issue. The issue being......
race mixing a sin? I, like our Lord Jesus , am not a respecter of persons. Can
you condemn someone or people because they believe it to be a sin. Can you
condemn those that believe it is not. I say you cannot condemn either. Ponder
this one. Please give me scripture to back up your view."
PONDERING THE BIBLE AND
DISTINGUISHING THE RESPONSE
FROM ITS WORD
What about this Question ?
HOW does the word of God relate to it ?
"Good to hear from you.
My answer seems fairly close to your own thought. However it needs to be made clear and specific. You wish me to ponder, so would you would care to join me in making some survey of the scene, from the Biblical perspective ?
The first question, it seems to me, is this. What is race mixing ? The second one is like it: IS race mixing a sin ? These two need answer first for clarity's sake.
By race mixing, in view of Galatians - "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus", and in view of your other statements, one conceives you mean marriage between people of different races. That is also probably a normal usage. In that sense, it is a probing question.
IS this a sin ? I find no SCRIPTURE which says so, and have just noted above, one which makes DIVISION BECAUSE OF RACE, wrong. On that basis, some might perhaps at first be inclined to say, Yes, the person who says it is a sin is wrong. God ahead without concern in racial intermarriage.
But one would have to add: you are free to do so ONCE the normal care and prayer has intelligently been taken, and you act by faith in Christ and believing in the wisdom you have asked for, that it is indeed provided (James 1).
That indeed is how I should answer the point of the question. THAT, however, to be clear, is not the same as saying it is ALWAYS GOOD to do it, when the issue arises, and the race question is in view. The universal condemnation of racial intermarriage is one thing: I CANNOT find ANY ground to support this. It is wrong. It runs counter not only to Galatians 3:27 but to Acts 17:26. On the other side, the specific acclamation of it however is a different point. That will depend, as do many varied things, on the case.
Are not races a differentiation, yet one without divergence from the fundamental fact of being created from the first in one format, for one function, by ONE GOD (Colossians 3:10)! Hence to overcome repugnance or emotional fear or apprehension, in this race field, seems IN GENERAL good, whether in marriage or in other fields!
Race difference is merely ONE of the grounds of division which, in Christ according to His word and life in terms of it, can be overcome. Association with those of different race can in fact be intriguing, delightful, and like different flowers, stimulating. It is like variations on an original theme, to put it musically. These differences of course may be ASSOCIATED with religious, cultural and political differences, which though a different question, may in a particular case come into play. These have to be considered in their own right.
Nevertheless, I tend to find this due association with those of other races a splendid thing, and am overjoyed if we have people of a number of different countries worshipping together. It gives me much pleasure to find my sense of humour so like a Chinese one met, in many respects, and to sense any differences. In one sense, it is opening up a joy of diversity, educative. In Christ, where both are IN HIM, cultural differences can be overcome as a divisive source, since Christians are not to love this world (James 4:4-7, I John -17). We who are His have been "conveyed into the kingdom of His dear Son" (past tense, Colossians ).
Now this is background on, and moving into the preliminary question, 'IS it a sin to intermarry?'.
That is not the question you asked. I am aware of that. Nevertheless, it seems good to check this one out first, before we look at the possibility of error in application of this theme!
Now we specifically ask another preliminary question (2): Is it ALWAYS wise to DISREGARD racial difference when considering marriage ? or again: should one make it a particular topic in prayer when considering it ?
As to the latter: assuredly one should. One must always bring every detail of need before the Lord (Philippians 4:1-6). Further, it is unwise to fail to note this, that it is wrong "AFTER vows to make enquiry," and it IS wise to be discreet, prudent, circumspect (Proverbs 20:25, Ephesians 5:15-16). Christ dealt 'prudently' (Isaiah 52), and there is no error in considering all the facets of a case, as one proceeds to seek the honour and glory of God and His will for one's life.
Thus, to sacrifice oneself for Christ is one thing; to fumble in the process is quite another. To have freedom in principle to do a thing is one aspect of life; to presume that the liberty makes such action always right is another thing. It is wise to turn a corner to the right... WHEN the road is there and this is your OWN need in travelling to reach the destination in view, in the way in mind.
Thus as to the former point (2), disregarding race in marriage, no, this would be unwise, just as it would be to disregard a simple physical fact that one was four feet tall and the man was six feet six. It is NOT irrelevant; it does NOT have NO consequences. It MIGHT create needless difficulties. Let me hasten however to add this, re height simply as a mind-stirring parallel, in point of DIFFERENCE: IF one is deeply in love, and IF there is a grand compatibility and more, collaboration of heart and mind, an affinity of spirit and a joy in each other, then such a thing as height would not be likely to weigh very much.
It is not however for that reason irrelevant.
In prayer, the LORD might give reassurance (as in Philippians 4); or on the
other hand, He might give negation of of liberty to proceed in a particular
case (Acts 16:7). Paul, in the area just quoted was RIGHT to feel duty laid on
him to go missionary very broadly, and not to regard any terrain as too
difficult; but THE LORD did not want him at THAT time to go to
Now we are ready to answer your exact
question, I think. CAN one RIGHTLY (I am sure you mean this) condemn someone
who considers 'race-mixing' a sin ? or the
opposite ? These are in essence general propositions, and the answer in that sense is this.
One does not wish to condemn the PERSON, but one must differ from the concept. One would say it was assuredly wrong, if the matter is being presented as a general proposition (which in fact is what appears to be the position here). It is NOT the case that mixed marriages are AUTOMATICALLY wrong, BECAUSE they are mixed. Some would be unwise, race or no race: the people do not belong. Some MIGHT be imprudent, because the children might NEEDLESSLY suffer. The Lord on the other hand might give one clearance on that topic, in a particular case. In some cases, in-law problems, especially those of religion and culture, might arise.
They might arise anyway. Here they MIGHT
unproductively arise, relative to the grace and labour in the kingdom of
heaven. On the other hand, in another case, there could be a testimony to the
harmony of diversity in the two races involved. There is complete
Positively: in a mixed marriage case, as in all other decision between persons PRUDENCE and concern for each other and the best way to serve the Lord (as implicit in I Corinthians 7:8ff.) must be in view. It is not merely a matter of the most attractive in this way or that; or the most talented; or the most calfishly loved, or the most distinguished. One must love, fundamentally and intrinsically, genuinely and specially. After that, in love of the Lord, one must survey all the features which might, to one's mind, seem possible difficulties. This is not done in order to be difficult, but in order to ensure that one is not rash. "He who hastes with his feet sins" (Proverbs 19:2).
In profound prayer, it would be possible to find assurance, or otherwise. Relevant scriptures have to be pondered, and applied without fear, as they are seen to affect the case. Race is not likely to be decisive, but it is a question, as in any other difference, whether in THIS case that is the way the Lord chooses.
It is wrong to disregard it as irrelevant; it is also wrong to regard it as decisive. It is one thing that must, with all the rest, be considered in the particular case.
On the whole of course, the one who believes it is NOT a sin to have mixed racial marriages, is nearer. But this, if this is a mere generalisation, strictly is wrong also, since liberty to act is not necessarily authority to do so.
It does however seem that the question is really simply isolating race, and asking whether such a thing is sin or not, as such; and in that case, the answer is this: as such it is no sin. In the particular case, it will depend as in many other PERMITTED things, whether or not it is a due use of liberty in this case.
Thus, it is not as such a sin to marry when the difference is simply one of race, or height, or income, or anything else, unless it is a mixed marriage in the sense of RELIGION, when the whole question is answered categorically from the scripture. If you are interested in the Bible teaching on that topic, please let us know. *1
But as for race, it is relatively simple: NO, it is wrong to call mixed marriages (in race) sin, because that is presumption. It is wrong to call them uniformly right, because that acts as if there were no guidance at the personal level. They are permissible without sin as such; their condemnation on race grounds alone is an error.
In direct answer to your question ...
Incidentally, it is to the great glory of God that such things as race cannot destroy the unity in Christ, are in the overcome basket, and in being overcome, illustrate the grandeur of the conceptions of the Almighty. Diversity in this unity is a grand and heartening achievement. Unity in the diversity is an inspiring theme. The one depends on the other, the creation; and in illustrating its mode, it can glorify God. It is however never wise to tempt the Lord, and if one undertakes some great thing like racial inter-marriage, the particular reasons for it in the instance in view, should be sound; just as the aversion from it should not operate in itself as a barrier.
Racial intermarriage is a challenge in which it is quite possible to adorn the Lord's vineyard; but like grape selection, it needs to be done with care.
I hope this covers what you have in mind.
Please do not hesitate to pursue any point. It is a pleasure to discuss it with you, and if it helps anyone to know and to do the will of God, praise the Lord for that. Incidentally, it might in some ways be helpful if you could let me know in which country you live.
With all good will,
World Wide Web Witness Inc. "
For some this note may be a useful addition, and since the topic is one to keep clear, it is provided here.
RACE IS NOT RELIGION: but where religion is involved, a few basics should suffice for the present, since it is not the question, but merely one parallel.
*1 This is not the place to proceed on this topic at length, but it is for the present sufficient to note that the generic Biblical prohibition on spiritual company where the direction is different of course applies: "Can two walk together unless they be agreed!" (Amos 3:3). In terms of the varieties of 'lords' and 'procedures' in the Canaanite religions against which Elijah responded so highly dramatically and categorically (I Kings 17:1-7, 18:20ff.) on Mt Carmel, after first being called on to cancel rain until further notice in the name of the Almighty (cf. James 5:16-17 for encouragement in the work of the Lord which He appoints to you who believe, whatever its nature according to His word), one thing is clear. There is NO room for adding to or subtracting from the word of God. The former is in any case forbidden directly in Proverbs 30:6 and the character of the latter receives some attention in Revelation 22:19, and from the lips of Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:17-19, 28:20. Here ALL THINGS without exception which He has COMMANDED are to be TAUGHT. Accordingly in Timothy you see the same emphasis in transmission of all the declared truth from God to man (II Timothy 2;2 cf. Titus 1:9, Jude and Scoop of the Universe 43, pp. 165ff.).
Another thing is simple and direct. It is explicitly forbidden to marry a non-Christian (II Corinthians 6:11ff.). If marriage is not being 'yoked together' then neither is the church joined to Christ in any such relationship; but behold! CHRIST CALLS people to be so yoked TO HIM! (Matthew 11:28-30). Ephesians 5 makes it manifest that marriage is a proper figure for relaying the concept of being one with Christ: marriage is LIKE HIS relationship to the church in its intimacy and authority. If someone HAS married in ignorance a non-Christian, then of course it is a very difficult situation, but advice is given (I Corinthians 7).
A final point is this mini-review: sects, heresies, direct rebellion against the word of God (not some difference in all conscience for the time earnestly held with all sincerity) is excluded for a matrimonial link. Where contra-apostolic teaching, non-Biblical religion is put forward and taught, there CAN be only AVOIDANCE. The point would seem to be this: IF there is a positive effort to forward what is anti-Biblical, then this is an intrusion, a defilement, a Trojan horse, an evil aggression into the body of Christ. If you are to avoid such (Romans ), then clearly marriage is not an option!